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Sport may be a central part of many of our lives, but when the appropriate precautions aren’t taken to protect ourselves, it can be more dangerous than we necessarily realise. About 2% of cases seen in UK emergency departments in 2014 were sports injuries, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Here are 11 of the things that you may be presently forgetting to do to prevent and tackle some of the most common sports injuries such as sprains, strains and tears.
This is the most important thing that you can do to minimise the risk of sports injuries. You should spend at least 5-10 minutes warming up, gently stretching and exercising your muscles in readiness for your more serious exertions to follow.
The warm-up should be started slowly and gradually build up to a more energetic pace.
A thorough physical examination ahead of a busy sporting season can be invaluable for checking your condition and identifying and addressing any previous injuries from which you may not have yet completely recovered.
At least one day a week and one month a year off from training in your chosen sport will better enable your body to recover from its exertions.
You should wear appropriate and properly fitting equipment. Examples naturally differ for each sport, but typically range from neck, shoulder and knee pads to helmets, mouthpieces and faceguards.
Protective equipment is specifically designed to shield especially vulnerable parts of the body, with the right headgear obviously of particularly extreme importance, given how it protects the skull and brain from damage. However, the correct footwear is also vital for supporting the foot and ankle to minimise the risk of twisting and injury.
Make sure that you research all of the protective equipment that you are recommended to use, especially when the sport in question involves physical contact with other players.
Whatever your level of seriousness when it comes to sport, hydration will always be vital – according to OTE Sports, as little as 2% dehydration per kilogram of body weight has to been found to impair athletic performance. Insufficient hydration can have a detrimental effect on both your physical and mental fitness, thereby elevating the risk of injury.
Don’t wait until you are thirsty to hydrate yourself, as this will often be too late. Although much has been said about the merits of expensive sports drinks and protein shakes, in most circumstances, water will serve you just fine.
Practising correct technique for your particular sport can greatly minimise the risk of injury to muscles, tendons and bones. Much the same can be said of the gym, where equipment must be used safely.
It’s extremely important to know and listen to your body and keep within your physical limits. When you are trying a new sport, you should begin slowly and steadily to minimise the risk of pulling or straining muscles that you may not have used in this way before.
Similar principles apply if you have not undertaken strenuous exercise for some time. As you begin to exercise more often and regularly, you will be able to do so for longer time periods.
Pay close attention to playing surfaces to ensure they are in the best possible condition. Take note of the weather too, as wet and slippery fields can increase the injury risk.
This may be difficult during the main sporting season if you are a professional athlete specialising in a particular discipline, but switching up the sports and positions that you play during the off-season can nonetheless be crucial for minimising overuse injuries.
Cooling down after physical exercise is no less important than warming up properly. Once you have completed your sporting exertions, take a minimum of 5-10 minutes to return your heart rate to its normal level through a gentle exercise like walking.
Remember that the right treatment can make a huge difference to your ability to recover quickly from your current injuries and prevent new ones. Here at Highgate Private Hospital, we can provide the complete sport, exercise and musculoskeletal medicine service.
For more information on the highly specialised, effective and proven medical services that Highgate Private Hospital can provide, please call our team on 020 8003 6411, or request a call back.